Li Na is poised to rise to a career-high No. 2 in the WTA rankings. (Fiona Hamilton-Pool/Getty Images)
By now, the short version of Li Na’s story is well known. She is the most decorated Asian tennis player of all time, winning the 2011 French Open and 2014 Australian Open. On Monday, less than two weeks shy of her 32nd birthday, she will rise to a career-high No. 2 in the WTA rankings. Since her breakout run to the 2011 Australian Open final, she’s made us laugh with her wicked sense of humor and single-handedly changed the landscape of women’s tennis.
But the depth of her story has remained less clear with non-Chinese speakers. Though Li’s improved English allows her to communicate basic ideas, the nuance gets lost in interviews and it can be a struggle to get her to discuss more complex issues. Her autobiography, the title of which translated to “Playing Myself,” was published in China in 2012, but unless you understood Chinese or broke the wrapper on that dusty copy of Rosetta Stone under your desk, you couldn’t read it. The book was finally released in English in December and it is, as expected, a fascinating look into Li’s mind — the stubborn, independent psyche that both propelled her to historic accomplishments and threatened to undermine it all. Retitled Li Na: My Life, the book is available for Kindle on Amazon.com.